Though it would not be a collection of towering skyscrapers and electronic sidewalks, Celebration, a brand new city in Central Florida, would be themed after a typical small American town of the 1940s and '50s. Still, its charter would follow Walt Disney's view of a self-sufficient city linked together with advanced technologies. Celebration was built in northwest Osceola County on previously-owned company property. Its features include residential neighborhoods, its own school, office buildings, hospital, and mall, but using the latest in communications, mechanical, and other technologies to operate and educate daily. To handle the large amount of requests for homes in Celebration, officials used a lottery system to grant homes to the first bidders.
During preliminary planning for Celebration, 600 acres to be developed were discovered to be wetlands. These state-protected areas were bound by law to be preserved and prevented companies across the state from developing on their own land.
The Walt Disney Company, however, made an agreement with the South Florida Water Management District that allowed the company to develop the designated acres in exchange for purchasing the 8,500-acre Walker Ranch, only twelve miles south of the Resort. Consisting of wetlands, endangered species, and sixteen separate plant communities, the ranch was close to being destroyed by overgrazing, lumbering, and digging.
At a dedication service on April 23, 1993, Walker Ranch officially became Disney Wilderness Preserve. This unprecedented agreement has led several other companies to follow suit, agreeing to purchase protected wetlands in Florida for permission to develop acreage already on their property.
Celebration is a census-designated place (CDP) and a master-planned community in Osceola County, Florida, United States, located near Walt Disney World Resort and originally developed by The Walt Disney Company. As part of the Orlando–Kissimmee Metropolitan Statistical Area, Celebration's population was 7,427 at the 2010 census.
Subsequent to founding Celebration, Disney followed its plans to divest most of its control of the town. Several Disney business units continue to occupy the town's office buildings, and two utility companies, Smart City Telecom and Reedy Creek Energy Services, both operated from Walt Disney World, provide services to the town. The town itself remains directly connected to the Walt Disney World resorts via one of its primary streets, World Drive, which begins near the Magic Kingdom.
Downtown Celebration's post office was designed by Michael Graves, the adjacent Welcome Center is by Philip Johnson and the Celebration Health building by Robert A. M. Stern. Other nearby buildings are designed by well known architects including: Charles Moore (Preview Center), Graham Gund (Bohemian Hotel), Cesar Pelli (movie theatre), Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown (SunTrust Bank).
Response to Celebration has ranged from an early visitor who said it resembled the too-perfect town of The Stepford Wives, to those who see Celebration as a return to small-town values with walkable and safe communities.
In the early 1990s, the Disney Development Company (DDC) established the Celebration Company to spearhead its development within approximately 4,900 acres (20 km2) of land in the southern portion of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Total investment for the project is estimated at US$2.5 billion.
The master plan was developed by Cooper, Robertson & Partners and Robert A. M. Stern, and the extensive landscape, parks, trails and pathways were designed by the San Francisco firm EDAW (now AECOM). Celebration is planned in an early 20th-century architectural style and is not zoned for high-density residences. Celebration was named the "New Community of the Year" in 2001 by the Urban Land Institute.
The first phase of residential development occurred in the summer of 1996 with Celebration Village, West Village and Lake Evalyn; this was followed by the North Village, South Village, East Village and Aquila Reserve and the final Artisan Park phases. Disney CEO Michael Eisner took an especially keen interest in the development of the new town in the early days, encouraging the executives at Disney Development Company to "make history" and develop a town worthy of the Disney brand and legacy that extended to Walt Disney's vision of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). DDC executives collaborated extensively with leaders in education, health and technology in addition to planners and architects to create the vision and operating policies for the town.
Celebration Town Center contains shops, restaurants, and other commercial establishments.
The Celebration Hotel hosted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during training camp until the 2009 season when the team moved training camp back to Tampa Bay. In autumn, leaf-shaped confetti shoots out of the lamp posts on Market Street to simulate falling leaves. During the holiday season, suds pour out of the lamp posts to replicate snow while Christmas music streams from the sidewalks.
There is a water fountain that comes out from the ground for children to play in located next to the lake, surrounded by palm trees and benches.
The community started with a small number of merchants that the Disney Company selected. There are now more than five hundred registered companies listed as doing business in the shopping plazas, small office complexes, and the Disney World office building park. This community does hold the Osceola County only Class A office buildings. There is a high number of home businesses.
Celebration is separated into areas referred to as villages. The main village, closest to downtown, is where the first homes were constructed. North Village, closest to U.S. 192, houses the Georgetown Condos as well as Acadia Estate Homes. East Village includes Roseville Corner and Aquila Loop. Lake Evalyn, generally considered its own area of Celebration but not quite its own village, includes a small lake where one can find a multitude of ducks, alligators, and the occasional river otter. South Village houses the Spring Park Loop estate homes and Heritage Hall. Additionally, Siena Condos complete the outer edge of South Village by Celebration Blvd. Mirasol includes condos with concierge service and a day spa. Artisan Park is at the end of Celebration Ave and houses condos, town homes, single-family residences as well as a clubhouse consisting of a pool, gym, and restaurant.
Homes and condominiums are constructed along streets, with garages and garbage pickup done in narrow but paved alleyways behind the homes, keeping the look of home fronts and sidewalks pristine. Utility service is underground.
This is considered the main road in the town. The road stretches from U.S. 192 to Artisan Park where it ends in a traffic circle. Starting from U.S. 192 near the Disney Parks and the Celebration water tower, you can find a small shopping plaza. From there, Celebration Avenue passes the North Village, splits the Celebration golf course, winds through a few down-town shops and schools, and then proceeds into the parks and homes in the newer sections of Celebration.
Celebration Boulevard has two sections. The most public section is an avenue parallel to I-4 that includes many commercial businesses and Celebration High School. The architecture on the street is mostly Celebration Modern style. This style reflects art Streamline Moderne and Art Deco influences with its sleek lines, sparse but effective ornamentation, and ample opportunities for individually expressive special features. The entire street is lined with two rows of Washington Palms. The buildings on the street include sitting areas under the shade of trees and trellises along their frontage. The other section of Celebration Boulevard lies on the other side of the golf course, closer to the Celebration Water Tower in the North Village. Here, Celebration Boulevard is almost completely residential. In addition to the homes perched behind white picket fences, this section of Celebration Boulevard flows past the Georgetown condominiums, the community pool, and soccer fields.
Celebration Place nearly spans the gap between the two sections of Celebration Boulevard, except that its eastern end terminates at the Water Tower Plaza instead of at the entrance to North Village on the other side of State Road 417. Celebration Place is a commercial road.
(text edited from exterior sources including Wikipedia)
(photos from press releases, real estates companies, Flickr and Sebastien Barthe)